Friday, October 22, 2010

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2: Body Language of Blake Lively and Penn Badgley Strongly Suggests an Impending Break-up in Near Future (PHOTOS)

Blake Lively and her boyfriend, Penn Badgley are shown hugging in this photo on the set of the TV show "Gossip Girl". But unless this is part of the script (and I don't think it is), this "Hug" is considerably non-affectionate and is a strong signal of an impending break-up of this actor couple. Let's start at the ground and work up. Notice their feet are not even close to pointing at each other. This is a very strong indicator of non-affection, especially during a hug. We point our feet towards those we love, like, are attracted to, or have affection for (even if not in an embrace) - or those we believe are important and deserve our respect. In the context of a married or dating couple, this is a flashing neon sign of non-affection and impending break-up. You heard it here first.

The couple's hips are far apart and also not pointed at each other (angled apart) - Blake's even more significantly. This is how you hug your cousin or your co-worker (see post on Cameron Diaz's and Tom Cruise's hug), not your significant other. Another detail here, is that Ms. Lively is bending more at the waist, while Mr. Badgley's waist is not bent at all. This particular waist finding is our emotional brain's attempt at keeping our hips further apart and our hugs less intimate, less affectionate and less committed. Blake is just not into it. To all men who get a hug like this on a "first date" - you won't get a second one.

Ms. Lively has a purse in her right arm, and she is hugging with only one arm. Blake's emotional brain is using her forearm to act as a barrier against affection. The purse is an additional barrier. These are two strong additional warning signs. Penn is hugging primarily with his left arm - his right arm is only slightly engaged.

Finally, look at their eyes, while Mr. Badgley's eyes remain closed, Ms. Lively's eyes open first (see photo below). We tend to close our eyes and keep them closed longer when the affection, the commitment and the love is deeper. Our emotional brain is focusing on the affection of the moment and trying to drink it all in. If one person never closes their eyes, or opens them quickly - there is less emotional commitment.

Using actors as examples to teach and coach body language is particularly illustrative, because it demonstrates so poignantly that although they are professionals and get paid millions to suspend our disbelief, faking emotion is extremely difficult to do. Truth always leaks, and often gushes out. It surprises me that more actors don't get body language coaching. It not only will help them become better actors, but as it does for everyone else - it gives profound understanding of all human emotion.

Update: Five days after this article-analysis was posted, Blake Lively and Penn Badgley split-up!